These grilled vegetables with jalapeño aioli are a great way to make the most of the last few weeks of grilling season! Zucchini, okra, mini peppers, and red onion wedges grill up quickly and are irresistible dipped in the creamy and spicy aioli.
Here in the South, the highs continue to sneak into the nineties most days and the markets are still packed with tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and okra. So while fall may technically be looming on the horizon, I am not ready to give up grilling anytime soon.
All summer long I’ve been firing up my grill and filling it with local veggies, sometimes adding some sausage or chicken as well, and calling it dinner. Nobody has complained, but I recently decided the one thing a platter of grilled vegetables really begs for is a flavorful sauce for dipping. The grilled vegetables almost seem like extra flavorful and colorful French fries once you add a nice aioli to dunk them into.
This jalapeño aioli is super simple and SO good on pretty much everything (tacos, rice bowls, burgers, you name it!). It’s just a couple jalapeños, deseeded if you like it mild, blended up with cilantro, a little lime juice and garlic, and some mayo. I am actually not a mayo fan at all but love it when a few other flavors are added and it’s blitzed to creamy perfection!
The aioli has a savory, very subtly spicy flavor when you deseed the jalapeños–next time I’m planning to leave some of the seeds in! The cilantro flavor is also not super strong, and you could substitute basil if you’re not a cilantro fan. It’s hard to describe exactly what makes this sauce so amazing, so you’re just going to have to try it for yourself.
I love to grill mini peppers because it’s so easy to prepare them, but of course this will work with full-size bell peppers, too. Just remove the stem and seeds and cut the pepper lengthwise into four sections. For the onion, trim the outside of the root end but leave the inside intact so your wedges will stick together. For zucchini, just trim the ends and slice thickly, on the bias if you like. And for okra, I do not remove the caps–as long as your okra are small enough the caps are tender and totally edible. If there’s a lot of stem you can trim that off, or leave it on and just hold onto it for dipping and not eat it.
Of course, there are many other vegetables you can grill depending on what you have available. Eggplant is a great one, especially long, skinny eggplant–just slice thickly (you do not need to salt it or anything). Asparagus is also great–just snap off the bottom end of each stalk (it naturally breaks right where it needs to for the tough part to be discarded). Portabella mushroom caps are another good choice, and can be thrown on whole or thickly sliced. Summer squash or pattypans can be prepped and grilled just like zucchini. You can also grill wedges of potato or sweet potato, but they will take a little longer.
Oh, and if you think you’re not an okra fan–PLEASE try it grilled before ruling it out! It’s not slimy at all and is so addictive. If you’re looking for another slime-free way to prepare okra, check out my blistered okra with garlic and cumin. It disappears so fast no matter who I serve it to!
Looking for some protein to serve alongside these grilled vegetables? The quickest solution is probably to throw some sausage or brats on the grill, but here are a few other ideas: orange chicken skewers, lemon chicken kebabs, mango jerk chicken, or ribeyes.
What’s your favorite food to grill? Do you grill all year long, or are you getting ready to shut things down for the season? Let me know in the comments!
For the jalapeño aioli:
- 1 large or 2 small jalapeños, stemmed (deseeded for mild)
- 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
- Juice of half a lime
- 1 clove garlic
- 3/4 cup avocado oil mayonnaise
- Sea salt, to taste
For the grilled vegetables:
- 12 mini sweet peppers
- 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges leaving root end intact
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced on the bias 1 inch thick
- 1 pint small okra
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- To make the aioli, add all ingredients to a high-powered blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add sea salt to taste.
- Transfer the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The aioli will be thin, but thickens up some as it chills.)
- To make the grilled vegetables, preheat the grill to medium high. Place the vegetables on a sheet pan and toss with the avocado oil and a little salt and pepper.
- Grill the vegetables for 5-7 minutes per side, or until nicely charred and softened. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with a little more salt. Serve hot or warm with jalapeño-cilantro aioli for dipping.
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